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William and Louisa Anderson
Part II - Jamaica Period, 1839-1848 - Chapter 4


1842 - Formation of a Congregation at Rose Hill—Mr. Anderson's Ordination as an Elder

The principal events of the year 1842 were the death, on March 3rd, of Mr. David Pratt Buchanan of Port Maria, who had gone out to Jamaica along with Mr. Anderson; the formation of a congregation at Rose Hill; and the ordination of Mr. Anderson as a ruling elder on the 20th of May.

In a letter to Dr. Brown, dated Carron Hall, March 8th, Mr. Anderson writes of Mr. Buchanan's last days of work, death, and funeral:—

In closing my letter to you this day week, I mentioned to you that Mr. Buchanan was ill of scarlet fever, and "not out of danger." I was much struck when, on the evening of Thursday the 3rd, I received a second note from Mr. Simpson, informing me that Mr. B. was no more. lie had died at noon. On the Thursday previous he was in school, though poorly,—just a week in descending from his work to his grave, lie was much stronger and better looking a few weeks ago than ever I saw him either in Scotland or here. On the first Sabbath of February, Mr. Simpson being from home, I went to Port Maria, and Mr. Buchanan came to Rose Hill. His text that day was, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father." On the third Sabbath he was at Unity. . . . That was his last public work in the Church below.

On Friday morning I rode down to his funeral. At a little after twelve the solemn procession left the school-house for the church. The coffin was followed by Mr B.'s scholars, and some other young people, arm in arm. It was placed in the middle of the church. I took my station beside it, and addressed the young people, many of whom were deeply affected, and shed many tears. Mr. Simpson addressed the old people from the desk. After devotional exercises, the remains of our brother were deposited in their resting-place, just beside those of Mrs. Simpson, who was laid there three months before. . . .

On Sabbath I had to address the congregations at Carron Hall and Rose Hill. I went to Rose Hill early, and returned to Carron Hall between one and two o'clock. The congregations at both places were large and deeply attentive. All seemed deeply affected when mention was made of Mr. B. Many of Carron Hall congregation had heard him at Unity.

The only extant early letter of Mr. Anderson to Mr. Goldie, and probably the first written after their meeting at "the Hall" at Goshen, is a brief note informing him of the death of Mr. Buchanan. It begins and ends, "My dear brother," which continued to be their fraternal style of address in their lifelong correspondence, which unfortunately has been almost wholly destroyed.

Mr. Anderson goes on to mention how the work consequent on an illness of Mr. Cowan's and the prevailing sickness had affected his own health:—

Mr. Cowan was very ill about the beginning of February. Having had more than usual work to do in consequence of Mr. C.'s sickness, and that work being, on account of the prevailing sickness and death, of a very exciting kind, I felt myself at the end of March considerably worn out. For a week or two I was I can hardly say sick, but sickly. I was ill enough a few days, having been salivated. I have got over my weakness now, however, and feel my health as good as ever it was. The epidemic which has hurried so many hundreds into eternity has not yet ceased its ravages, but it is nothing now to what it was from August to .March.

A description of Mr. Anderson's first experience of a shock of earthquake follows:—

On the afternoon of Saturday the 7th curt, the shock of an earthquake was felt in this island. It was so slight that few felt it. It is the first in my experience. I was sitting alone on the sofa reading (I think) The Life and Times of John Campbell, when I felt the whole house shake under me. It was an undulating motion, like that of a ship over a wave. I looked out and saw several people busy at different things, but no one seemed to feel anything strange. Without saying anything, I resumed my reading, but thought, "This is surely an earthquake." On mentioning it to several persons afterward, it appeared that all who were sitting within doors in quiet felt it, and those out of doors or busy did not feel it.

In a letter dated Carron Hall, May 25th, the Rev. John Cowan writes regarding the formation of a congregation at Rose Hill:—

Since I last wrote you a considerable part of my time has been occupied at Rose Hill examining candidates, in order to the formation of a church and the dispensation of the Lord's Supper among them. This, in my present rather weakly state, has been a somewhat laborious though a very interesting work. I conversed with them individually during the day, and had meetings with them in the evenings. On this and on former occasions I examined upwards of fifty of them several times, and out of this number have admitted thirteen, who seemed to be the choice portion of the Rose Hill congregation. It was gratifying to see the excellent spirit manifested by those who were delayed. Some of them would have been happy if I had encouraged them to come forward; but none of them expressed any undue anxiety to be admitted, and they manifested the very best feeling towards those who had got before them.

With those admitted I have had great satisfaction in observing their correct knowledge of the leading truths of the gospel, and have often been greatly cheered by the influence which these appeared to exert over their consciences and hearts, manifesting itself, in some instances, in the tears they shed while conversing of the love of Christ in dying for our sins; and in others, in their undisguised sorrow for the hardness of their hearts, in preventing them from making a more hearty surrender of themselves to Him. They belong, I trust, to the fold of the Good Shepherd. They have given evidence that they are walking in the footsteps of the flock. . . .

We met for the formation of the church on Friday the 20th inst. We enjoyed on that occasion the ministrations of Mr. Simpson of Port Maria, and two American missionaries, Messrs. Beardslie and Hovey. Mr. Simpson commenced the services by praise and prayer. Mr. Hovey preached from Acts ii. 47: "The Lord added to the Church daily such as should be saved." Afterwards, the candidates who had been approved of were formed into a church by making a confession of their faith, and a profession that the\r gave themselves to the service of the Lord, etc.,—the care of them devolving jointly on Mr. Anderson and me. Mr. Anderson was ordained at the same time to the office of ruling elder. Mr. Simpson offered up the ordination prayer, and concluded the services by an address to the church. . . . The influence, I trust, of the services of this clay will be salutary and abiding. The schoolhouse, although not floored, was seated throughout, and nearly full. Several of the members of Mr. Beardslie's church and of Carron Hall were present.

The Lord's Supper was observed at Rose Hill on the 22nd inst. The day on this occasion was no less interesting than the day when the church was formed. There was a large assembly—more than could be accommodated. Mr. Beardslie preached an excellent discourse from John x. 14, and several of the members of his church came and united with the members of the Rose Hill and Carron Hall churches in fellowship at the Lord's table.

Having thus noticed the formation of a church at Rose Hill, let me remind you that the gospel began to be preached there about five years ago, at first on the coffee terraces, and afterwards in a temporary building erected by the people themselves. This building, though of a very humble description, cost much of the time and labour of the people, and has served both as a school-house and place of worship. It was built in the month of August 1838, the first month of freedom, some of the people remarking that they wished to give the first of their labour to God. For the first three years I was able to give them only an occasional sermon ; but since the arrival of Mr. Anderson in 1840, his labours on the Sabbath have been almost exclusively devoted to Rose Hill, and the attainments of the people are peculiarly the fruit of his labours among them. His deep interest in them has been abundantly manifested, and it must be very gratifying to him to see, in the formation of a church among them, the first-fruits of his anxieties and labours and prayers on their behalf.

In his letter to Mr. Elliot, Mr. Anderson gives an account of the formation of the congregation, etc., similar to that of Mr. Cowan, and, commenting on the small number admitted to membership (which he gives as twelve), writes:—

Others might have been admitted, but it is deemed best both for safety and comfort to begin with few at a new station. When Mr. Chamberlain formed a church at Port Maria, he admitted only fourteen, although he had been preaching there for three years. I must confess, however, that I was not altogether satisfied that so few seemed to have received much benefit from the Sabbath instructions of upwards of two years. But I expect that the number will soon be doubled. I have upwards of seventy catechumens, besides the twelve members who are, with the exception of a few superannuated individuals, making advances in knowledge. . . .

He goes on to speak of his studies:—

The North District Committee, under which I am studying, meets on this day week. I have to read a few chapters in "Hebrews" in Greek, the 4th of "Genesis" in Hebrew, and am to be examined on vol. 4th of Dick's Lectures. By the way, does not Dr. Dick show in his 100th Lecture that to catechists belongs the title of Doctor? (p. 376).

I compiled an Introduction to English Grammar a few months ago. If Dr. (William) Brown be getting it printed, you may have a copy from him. I wrote both to Dr. Brown and Mr. Chisholm of my want of a Hebrew-Bible, Lexicon, and Grammar. I trust one of them will send said books. I wish also The Testimony of the Secession Church. I have been studying the 2nd volume of Home's Introduction for some time. It is one of the Ford books.

The Jamaica Presbytery meets in June. I believe that Mr. Aird and Mr. Elmslie will deliver trials for license. One question to be settled is, What powers are to be conferred along with license to preach? The catechists are looking forward with deep interest to this meeting. I regret that the place of meeting is so distant that I cannot attend it.

In a note to Mrs. Elliot, written across the letter to Mr. Elliot, Mr. Anderson returns thanks for what was evidently a marriage present. He says:—

My dear Madam,—Accept of best thanks from Mrs. Anderson and myself, and, I may add, Mr. Cowan too, for The Life and Times of John Campbell. It formed a rich treat to us all. In an out-of-the-way place like this the reception of a new book, especially of one so full of interest as that you sent, forms an era. For my part, I devoured the work without one unnecessary interruption. I could not leave it till I finished it.

Since I last parted with you, you have been called to drink of the bitter cup of sorrow. I doubt not you feel the death of your children to be a new connection betwixt you and the eternal world. I feel the death of my scholars to be so to me.

My wife and I are exceedingly obliged to yourself and Mr. Elliot for your kind regards and wishes. Must I say it? During your long silence I often thought, "Well, Mr. and Mrs. E. do not approve of my marriage." That thought was always a damper, for since I was a boy I always looked up to you with confidence and affection, and I could not bear the thought that perhaps you did not approve of that step. I cannot tell you how happy the assurance of your approval would have made me; but I have myself to blame, I should have asked it. I have it now, and am much gratified by it.

A brief note to Mr. Elliot, of date July 22nd, 1842, may also be given:—

In my last to you I mentioned some Hebrew books of which I was in need. On Saturday last, out of a box which came to Mr. Cowan, I got an excellent new copy of Gesenius' Hebrew Lexicon, and do. do. do. of Mr. Stuart's Hebrew Grammar, a present I see worth £2, 5s. 6d. from Rev. Dr. John Brown. I was confounded when I saw them. I was in expectation of getting a Hebrew Bible in Kingston, but have hitherto been disappointed. Mr. Cowan's, of which I have the loan, is hardly legible. It is the edition of Doederlein and Meissner, Lipsiae, 1793. If you can secure a good copy for me, please send it. Mark the price on it. Mention the price also of The Testimony of the Uu. See. Ch. If a "Discourse by a Jamaica Catechist" would be of any service for your magazine, I shall forward a short one. How presumptuous I have become!—Love to all, from your ever affectionate W. ANDERSON.

Mr. Elliot's reply to these letters, though bearing the date 3rd Jan. 1843, will most fitly be given here:—

I rejoice that you have enjoyed such uninterrupted good health—that you have been so wisely guided in forming the most endearing and important relation in life, and find in Mrs. Anderson one so capable of sympathising with you and aiding you in your missionary enterprises— and above all, that you take so much delight, and are favoured with so much success, in the blessed work to which you have devoted yourself. I hope you will continue to meet with increasing encouragement, and that you will be made the happy instrument of enlightening many of our brethren of the negro race, and turning them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, and especially of bringing many of the young among them to the knowledge and belief of the truth that they may be saved, and perhaps of preparing many of them for being future missionaries and preachers. I am very glad that you are enrolled as a student at the Theological Seminary, and expect to hear ere long of your being licensed as a preacher, and advanced to the status of minister and missionary. I am even indulging the pleasing thought of your revisiting Ford, at some time or other, in that character, and perhaps assisting me in dispensing the Lord's Supper to my people, so many of whom are acquainted with you, and all of whom take a lively interest in your welfare, and are delighted with every piece of good news that is received from you.

Mr. Elliot's letter refers to the health of old Mrs. Potts, Mr. Anderson's aunt, and to the illness of his cousin William, who was dying of consumption in Dalkeith. Mr. Elliot writes:—

You must have heard that your aunt had, several months ago, a stroke of paralysis. It was a very slight one, and she is enjoying at present good health. Her mind has suffered more than her body, and is much more weakened. But though reduced to a kind of second childhood, she is cheerful and sufficiently happy. She resides with your aunt at Dalkeith. Though, however, at some distance from us, we frequently see her, and she is always delighted to see us.

A brief reference to the neighbouring ministers known to Mr. Anderson may also be quoted:—

Our neighbours, Messrs. Cooper, Sandy, and Brown, are well; and their congregations, as well as my own, are not, I think, decreasing (bad as are the times, and severely as all classes are suffering), but rather improving and advancing in numbers.

A present of a bound volume of The United Secession Magazine for 1842, and the favourable response to Mr. Anderson's offer of a contribution for the pages of the magazine, must have greatly delighted Mr. Anderson:—

The editor of the Secession Magazine, while begging your acceptance of the last year's volume, as a small token of his respect, has not forgotten your offer, and will receive and insert with pleasure a sermon from a Jamaica Catechist. lie sends you also the two numbers of this year—the only ones that have yet been published, and will send you the others as they appear, or as opportunity occurs.

A few extracts from Mr. Anderson's Journal will lead up to his and Mr. Cowan's reports on the work for the year:—

May 12.—Showed my scholars a sample of Scottish wheat, barley, and oats, all on the straw. We have nothing resembling them here except grass. They viewed them with much interest. Several passages of Scripture were pointed out where mention is made of wheat, barley, and corn. We feel much obliged to our Ford friend who sent them. How delighted would scholars in Scotland feel could their teachers show them a bunch of bananas or a cluster of mangoes!

Oct. 19.—A heavy rain this afternoon. Dismissed school a little earlier than usual, during an interval of rain, as a heavier storm seemed to be gathering. In a short time one of the girls came running to tell me that one of her little companions had been carried down the river. Mr. Cowan and I immediately set off to see if we could render any assistance. When we got down, the girl's father had dragged the body out of the water, and, assisted by a neighbour, was carrying it home. We used all the means we could think of, aided by a Medical Guide, to restore animation, but were unsuccessful. Death had secured its victim.

Dec. 11.—Talked to a few old people to-day about African affairs—about the murders called customs, of which I had been reading in the November number of the Scottish Missionary Register. No surprise was expressed by any of them at the rehearsal of the dark deeds. None of them are Ashantees, and they have never seen people beheaded on the death of their chiefs. But they have seen what is, in some respects, worse. They have seen many persons placed on or in the graves of men of rank, having both arms and legs previously broken, and left to die there from agony and starvation. An old woman told me that she narrowly escaped being eaten. A neighbouring tribe used to come down and steal her country people, and keep and fatten them like so many hogs. When quite fat, two were regularly killed and eaten every morning. She was once captured, and would have been eaten like her companions, but she became sick, and in consequence did not become fat. Another old woman told me that she remembered of being sent when a girl into a hut to get fire. A large fire was on the floor, and around it were hung hands, limbs, and different parts of human bodies, that they might be dried and eaten like hams. The fat sometimes dropped into the fire and made it blaze more brightly. She had seen men scraping human sculls into powder, which they put upon the palms of their hands and licked off like sugar. On asking this group of aged Ethiopians if they would not like to go back to Africa, a general shudder accompanied the unanimous and evidently heartfelt reply, "No, massa!" Verily, "the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty."

Little did Mr. Anderson dream, as he eagerly listened to and recorded these stories of African "customs," that in a few years he would himself be grappling with similar "customs" in Old Calabar.

In a letter dated Dec. 12th, 1842, Mr. Anderson gives a report on Carron Hall school for the year. He writes:—

The attendance has been considerably better this year than last. The total number of scholars last year was 244, and the average attendance 127. The total number this year is 264, and the average attendance 143. In good weather we have frequently had 160 present.

For some time back 1 have made the advancement from one division to another elective by the scholars themselves. Once in three or four months, I name a day about four weeks distant, on which the choice is to be made. When the time comes, all in the first division are allowed to name anyone in the second whom they think fit to join them. Those who have been named are then called up for trial. The Old Testament is opened at random, and three verses pointed out, which are immediately read aloud by one of them, when a show of hands is taken whether he is to be received or sent back to his old class. And so on with the rest. Those who read well are promoted; those who blunder are sent back to their old seats, with a counsel to be diligent against the next election day. Those in the second division proceed in the same way to choose the best readers out of the third. The trial with them is to read two or three verses in the Testament. This plan, as a stimulus to diligence, far exceeds my expectations. Formerly there used to be a reluctance shown by many of the scholars to go to a higher class, but by making it a point of honour they all strive to attain it. A more difficult book is not now an object of dread, but of ambition. If anyone become careless, or fall back in his lessons on account of absence, he is, on the vote of his class, put down to the next lower. Two of the girls have this year become members of the church.

In regard to Mr. Anderson's work at Rose Hill, Mr. Cowan, in his report, says:—

He has been indefatigable. A complete system of instruction is in operation at Rose Hill on the Sabbath. There as well as here (Carron Hall), we have to combat with old errors, with which the people's minds have been occupied in former years. Even some of the school children have been led away by the leaders, and put through a course of dreaming. [For an account of the superstition regarding the religious value of dreaming, see Jameson's Memoir, pp. 34 and 198.] Notwithstanding this, however, the prospects of the station there are highly encouraging.

The number of scholars on the list at the station is 88, and the daily attendance is about 60. Eighteen of these are learning arithmetic, grammar, and geography ; and 24 are writing. The schoolhouse there is all finished now, except the flooring and seating. The boards for the former have been provided, and the carpenters are now employed upon it.


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